Passing The Torch To The Next Generation

We have a lot of traditions around the holidays. The santa curtain is the first Christmas decoration to go up every year after Thanksgiving dinner once the dishes are done. Decorating is done the day after Thanksgiving. I get a nutcracker every year to add to my collection.

The nutcracker tradition started when I was 16 and I was given my first nutcracker by my parents for Christmas. The tradition has continued nearly every year since, with my parents and later Hubby and occasionally someone else giving me a nutcracker at Christmas. Needless to say, over 30 years later and my collection is LARGE.

A few years ago, Hubby decided that he needed to give it to me either when we were decorating for the holidays or, as happens WAY too often, as soon as it arrives, no matter when throughout the year he bought it. It is still always a surprise as I just never now when he is going to present me with that year’s nutcracker.

Hubby is also the one that morphed this tradition into a theme for the year. The nutcracker always reflects something significant from the year. Like the year he gave me a mountain climber/hiker one when we took a trip to Colorado or a Charles Dickens one the year I published my book. It is as much fun getting the nutcracker itself as it is seeing what theme he is going to pick for the year. It makes it fun when it is time to bring them all out for the season to see those themes and reflect on when I got them and why. There are stories for every one and the kids, especially BG, love to talk about them.

I’d decided a while ago when I saw how much BG loved this tradition, that I’d start her on her own tradition of nutcrackers when she turned 16. I’ve been thinking about it for the last couple of years and finally got to start it this year.

As often happens when we are decorating and putting out all the nutcrackers, Hubby slides downstairs and slips the box in next to one of the bins I was unpacking. The kids know he does this and MC saw this and waited for my reaction not knowing that this one wasn’t mine. BG was oblivious.

When I called her over and handed her the box, she was bit confused and asked me if Hubby had gotten me another new one (I already got mine this year). When I said no, this was hers so she could start her own collection… her face!! The utter shock was just over the top. It is hard to really surprise her and she had no idea I was planning this.

Then she absolutely lost it and started bawling her eyes out. I really didn’t expect that. I had expected her to be a little surprised, even excited to get her own nutcracker, but she was just so emotional about it I was floored. I had no idea just how much doing this would mean to her which made this all the more special.

We were both a bit of a blubbery mess for a few minutes. Then I lost my helper as she took off upstairs to make a space in her room to set him up in a place of honor.

Following tradition, hers is somewhat themed in that it matches this year’s pointe costume almost perfectly with the pinks and golds. The fact that it also has a ballerina with it is kind of icing on the perfect cake.

The photo is of her very first nutcracker (on the left) next to my first ever nutcracker (right). While I will still be getting my nutcrackers, I’ve passed the tradition down to my girl this year. I never could have anticipated how much this means to her, so I’m overjoyed that I get to share this with her.

It is moments like this that I love the most. These little points that make up our stories and the pieces that stick with us for a lifetime. Now she is going to have her own physical story reminders she will get to unpack for years to come.

Cooking Marathon

This is just a little of what I spent my day doing yesterday. Let me tell you, it was a hell of a struggle to get it all done when I had zero energy. Again.

In all, I made 4 batches of pie crust, a huge batch of my dumpling style egg noodles, a batch of rolls, and 3 mini pumpkin pies.

It has been interesting to try and figure out how to split all of this up to make two full Thanksgiving meals in a way that was easy to transfer since one of those is going to my FIL. The pies were a big one as it isn’t exactly easy to just cut an entire pie in half and transport it. Some are easier than others, but I also want everything to still look appetizing when it gets there.

I found some 6 inch pie pans that I thought would work to split my recipe into two (since it normally calls for a 9 inch) or something close. I’d planned on doing only 2 small pumpkin pies and using the 3rd for the chocolate, but when I went to pour the filling, I had more than enough to do all 3 shells. They worked wonderfully, though.

The other biggie was doing the turkey. I’d hoped to find 2 small ones so I could just send off the whole thing, but that SO didn’t happen. I’m now cooking a huge bird today so I can include it with everything else, but that means we get it as leftovers tomorrow. I wanted to limit what I had to do that with, so most everything else I’m doing in two separate batches.

Today I’m working on cooking that turkey and then doing a full on meal prep of one batch of everything else and we will be taking it and dropping it all off this afternoon.

So far, I feel better today than I have the last couple of days, so hopefully I won’t be wiped out tonight when I finally get to sit down again.

The fun part? I get to do it ALL again tomorrow except the turkey.

Snowman On A Starry Winter Night: On Redbubble

I again didn’t have the energy to do much of anything yesterday, but I did feel up to playing a bit and this was the result. As with most of these, I have this up on Redbubble if anyone is interested.

I’m apparently ready for the holidays!

Snowman On A Starry Winter Night

Starry Winter Snowman Apron
Starry Winter Snowman Apron
Starry Winter Snowman Card
Starry Winter Snowman Card
Starry Winter Snowman Fitted Mask
Starry Winter Snowman Fitted Mask

Little Touch Of Last Year

It dawned on me the other day that this is the first year in at least a few that we have no leaves on our front maple tree when it was time to put up our holiday decorations. The last couple of years, we still had a lot of this going on making it incredibly hard to put any lights in that tree. This year, it is absolutely bare.

Yesterday, my motivation way outstripped my energy levels. I had fully intended to get the outside done completely, but I only managed about a quarter before my body wasn’t having it.

It is one of those odd things with my bronchitis that hits every once in a while. I’ll be feeling pretty much normal other than the occasional coughing fit and then out of nowhere, I feel week and have zero energy. I’m talking doing even the slightest thing feels hard and exhausting and I feel weak as a newborn kitten.

That feeling hit right about the time Hubby got all my bins upstairs and I’d started organizing stuff to put out. I pushed through enough to get my garland up and that was all I could do. My poor nutcrackers didn’t even make it upstairs yesterday.

Now I have to try and work on getting the rest out throughout this week in between working on all the stuff I’m making for Thanksgiving, which is interesting this year as I’m having to do two rounds. One for my FIL that we are taking out and dropping off with him on Wednesday. And one for us on the day of. Working out the logistics of splitting that meal up has been fun (NOT).

I’m hoping the low energy thing was just yesterday because I’d had a couple of nights of not sleeping well. I’d run low on my cough meds and couldn’t get it refilled right away so had to ration it out which left me coughing more than normal. Now that I’m back on schedule with my meds, I’m hoping the sleep gets back to normal along with my energy.

I have way too much I need and want to do this week for my energy to decide to take a vacation.

Bring On The Nutcrackers!

My guys are coming up out of storage today along with all of my other outside decorations. It is a little early for me as we usually wait until the weekend after Thanksgiving, but I’m opting to take advantage of the nice weather today to work outside.

I’m standing firm that there are no indoor decorations yet, because I have my santa curtain tradition that is important to me and I really need that this year.

Doing this part now also gives us the chance to organize that under stair storage space for the contractors to be able to close it off when they come to work on my craft room.  Since they are supposed to start any day now, this really needs to get done.

Getting these out is making me want to work on another project, which I can’t yet. My cabinets are going to be my next project. But these were SO much fun to do! I’ve tossed around the idea of trying to do some much smaller than life sized versions, but what I want to do requires even more tools that I don’t currently have. And I’m SO not going to buy anything for like 10 years after my craft room is finished!

But… if anyone else out there is feeling extremely ambitious and wants instructions, feel free to steal or use as a guide for your own version… https://tjfox.net/2018/11/26/repost-giant-nutcrackers-how-to/.

 

Not To Brag…

Okay. I’m totally going to brag because I need to focus on something awesome.

I’ve mentioned that MC was invited to become a TA for his computer programing teacher. Originally, he couldn’t and get paid because of financial rules, but he is going to be able to do it as a volunteer next semester instead even though he is only a freshman.

He was also recommended to become a tutor (pretty sure this is for math), again as a freshman, which looks like is also going to happen next semester and will count towards his service requirements for his honors scholarship program.

He is trying out for his eSports team this weekend at the request of other team members and looks to have a great shot at making the team. This will be a major time commitment because of the number of hours a week he is required to practice with the team, but he is stoked to add this to his list of things he is doing in college.

THEN… he had his communications teacher ask him to join the speech team this last week. This one makes me not just brag, but laugh my butt off because MC is SO not one to enjoy doing speeches. He is REALLY good at them, but he doesn’t like it. Even though they asked, I think he might turn this one down as it just isn’t his deal, but it is amazingly cool that he was asked.

He isn’t even out of his first semester of college as a freshman and he is being requested or recommended for so many things he never would have even remotely considered before starting college. As a mostly introverted guy, this is kind of huge.

Oh, and he doesn’t have lower than a 97% in ANY of his classes, with a bulk of them currently sitting at over 100% (because he is too ambitious to ignore any extra credit chances). My mind is absolutely blown.

So, yeah. I’m going to take a moment and brag on my kid because he is apparently well liked and amazing. Well, I KNOW he is amazing, but now I get to see that others are noticing as well.

My Chicks Are All Home In The Nest

I just got done unloading MC back at home until at least after the first of the year. He will be home for the remainder of his first semester at college and, fingers crossed, hopefully all of next semester as well.

We’ve moved all his stuff back home to be on the safe side and to avoid needing to go to campus after Thanksgiving to pick stuff up if they do determine he doesn’t need to live in a dorm next semester. If he does, we will just do like we did to get his stuff home and bring it in batches. He isn’t a “stuff” kind of guy, so there wasn’t a ton.

So many things around here have changed in the last few days. A lot of things are being forced back into all virtual or reduced capacity and gathering limits. As usual, this was lead by our mayor and not our governor. I’m grateful that our city government sees how important these things are for everyone.

This doesn’t do much to impact BG’s schedule much. Her dance will go online for 2 weeks after Thanksgiving, but they’ve not said anything at all about their Christmas program. I’m still standing firm on my position that if they attempt to do so with masks being optional, she will not be participating.

It is my fervent hope that people in this country will abide by the CDC’s new recommendations for no travel over Thanksgiving. That people will stay home and pick up the phone or do a zoom call with their distant family and loved ones instead. That they can find peace in knowing they did their part to ensure everyone’s family is still there for them next Thanksgiving.

For us, we are officially hunkered down for a while in our little nest. I’m a happily relieved momma to know that my chicks are home and safe.

Evening Glow (From Last Year)

I decided to repost this one today because I had a night of weird dreams. Strange and annoying dreams where I’d catch a glimpse of a perfect shot from a window, one with incredible light hitting the landscape just right, and by the time I got to my camera equipment and back (because of course in the dream it wasn’t easy to get to and get the right lens), the lighting had changed and it was just an ordinary, boring shot.

Needless to say, I woke up frustrated and disappointed, so I found a photo that would satisfy some of that perfect lighting craving (though this still isn’t as good as what I’d dreamed).

Hmm… wonder if my subconscious is telling me something? Like get off my butt and go play with my camera?

And Done!

I got the last of my errands today, so I’m now set to be entrenched at home for a while. BG has her dance shoes. I’ve shipped a batch of masks to a friend in need and I have on hand all I need to get some work done on the craft room when the time comes.

Our mayor yet again showed up for the residents of this city and has imposed more restrictions to try and help slow this spread down. It did it’s job in the spring, now the rest of the population needs to get on board so that our local hospitals aren’t being overrun by people that live in areas that don’t have those restrictions.

The new restrictions will also most likely impact what BG’s dance studio will be doing about their classes and Christmas program. I’m hoping to hear from them soon, but as of right now, if nothing changes, she won’t be performing even if they are allowed. I’m not good with anything that is mask optional and Hubby and I agreed and discussed this with her today.

The only remaining open question is MC and what his plans are going to be. He was supposed to try out for his college eSports team over the weekend. If he makes it, he is required to be on campus in their eSports practice area several times a week for multiple hours. I don’t think there are that many members, so I don’t know how or if the new restrictions will impact him. He was originally planning on being home after Thanksgiving and potentially next semester as well if the school gave him permission to not live on campus next semester. We are still waiting to hear on that one.

I’m not a fan of being in limbo, but I do feel much better about where we all are today than I was even just yesterday. I’m ready to hunker down into hermit mode for the winter and I’d love it if all my little chicks were able to do the same.

Home For The Holidays

I was given this year’s nutcracker last night! Hubby had started giving them to me early so I could enjoy them the whole season. Some years I get them earlier than others because he cannot stand to hang on to it after he gets it. This showed up on the porch yesterday afternoon and it was sitting in my spot at the table for dinner last night. I loved what he picked for the theme this year.

So much is going to be different this holiday season, but I’m good with that.

I won’t be doing bake sale baking this year because there won’t be a bake sale. The organizers are still taking donations to be able to support the families they provide for through the holidays, but no one is in the office right now, so a bake sale isn’t feasible. Instead, we are going to donate what they normally make off my baked goodies to help make up the difference of what they’d get from the sale.

We are also holing up and not leaving again after this week. I have one more errand I have to take care of, then I’m going to do my best to not leave the house again until after the first of the year. Hubby will still take care of our essential shopping, but I won’t be leaving. I’m not taking any chances with a lowered or suppressed immune system.

We got all the pieces I need for my craft room project yesterday to paint the walls and install the floor. I figure that after the contractors are done, that is about all I’d be able to get done until after the first of the year and will keep me from needing to leave to get any supplies.

I have my fingers crossed that our local government actually implements the health department recommendations of no gatherings larger than 10 as that will mean I don’t have to make the decision to keep BG from participating in her Christmas dance performances. The studio has put us in another awkward position as parents because they said they were going to make masks optional for the performances. They are live streaming them instead of having families come to the studio, but I think making it mask optional is recklessly stupid and I’m leaning towards keeping BG out because of that (and many other factors as well).

The last piece that is up in the air on our total stay at home for the holidays plan is what MC’s school is going to do. We know that they are not required to come back to campus after the Thanksgiving break, but they still have not answered questions about his requirements to live on campus next semester, so I have no clue if we are moving him out of the dorms in the next couple of weeks or not.

Staying home also means no big meal with Hubby’s dad and sister. For either Thanksgiving or Christmas. We haven’t seen either one of them since February other than Hubby taking care of a few critical appointments with my FIL, but we are all in agreement that we need to do this.

I am planning on fixing a full Thanksgiving dinner to take out and drop off with them the day before. The whole family will go, but we will only stay outside and just long enough to drop it off and leave. I will probably also do something similar for Christmas. At least he will get a nice, home cooked meal that way even if we can’t spend any time together. That is the best we can do right now. It helps to make sure that EVERYONE is still around for next holiday season.

And just to give you a visual reminder….

Intubation Graphic
Intubation Graphic

 

What’s Left At The End Of The Day

It is difficult not to be exceptionally angry today. I’m angry at the ignorance and the unwillingness of those that are supposed to be in charge to actually DO something productive.

Yes, I could be talking on the larger scale as that absolutely applies as well, but I’m talking a little lower down the power rung. Our idiotic governor, who just got reelected, much to my horror, just put out a decision stating that as long as masks are worn properly at the time of exposure, schools no longer need to issue quarantines for those that might have been exposed.

What the ever loving fuck?!

The same day, one major university announced they were going full virtual after Thanksgiving and a local high school was also having to go all virtual because of the number of cases. But the brain trust in charge of our entire state decided, against ALL CDC and health department recommendations, that quarantines are no longer needed.

This was immediately followed by our mayor stating that our city would not be following those guidelines. Sadly, BG’s school district isn’t inside the city limits and aren’t bound by city rules. They did put out a statement that they will be considering what this means for them and give more information later.

It is hard enough to send her to the school to take her proctored exams as it is. Knowing she will be going if the school follows our governor’s guidelines pisses me off. I have her doing online for a reason.

This also makes it significantly more concerning to send her to dance because there are SO many school districts represented at the studio and I have no way of knowing which schools will be following those guidelines and which ones won’t.

I am sick to death of people that don’t know squat thinking they know more than the experts and putting so many people at risk. I simply do not understand whatever twisted rationale they used to make such a stupid, risky decision.  Schools are already having a hard enough time with outbreaks, but this dipshit thinks this is a good idea and that things will be better?

Oh, and this is the same dipshit that cut funding for schools in the spring.

The only mitigating factor in this at all is that, so far, our district has followed city guidelines for the most part. It is still going to impact so many other areas of my state, though. So many people are going to die because there is an idiot at the helm who refuses to listen to the real doctors with real experience and the CDC and the health departments. You know, the ones who’s jobs it is to know this stuff.

Rainbowed Sunset Behind A Tree

I finally got my test results back yesterday afternoon. It took longer than the 24 hours I was originally told, but I got the expected negative so I’m good to go to take the meds I need to kick this bronchitis in the butt.

Even better, I noticed that the amazing, saintly doctor I spoke to not only gave me a generous size bottle of the desperately needed cough medicine, but he gave me 2 refills on it as well! Every past doctor I’ve seen with the exception of the one while I was pregnant with BG that took pity on me and gave me enough to last about 2 years has treated that stuff like it was liquid gold.

I do get why, but it just makes it that much harder to get enough to get this under control normally, which means I have to go in multiple times every year. I really wasn’t looking forward to that this year so I did a little happy dance when I saw the number marked in the refills box on the label.

Fingers and toes crossed that all of this is enough to knock this out early this year.

Craft Room Project: HVAC & Wall Drawings

Today was a rather productive day. And kind of exciting as well.

I now have the HVAC installed in the new space! Damn, but that was LOUD! I’m so glad that neither Hubby nor BG had meetings going on at the time because it really wouldn’t have been possible.

I also completed the bulk of my drawing on the walls fun. It is really rough, but mostly accurate. I ran into a couple of issues that I had to correct, which was the whole point of the exercise, to make sure my designs would work and to help me with the final layout of outlets and lighting.

Back Wall Layout
Back Wall Layout
Workbench Wall
Workbench Wall

Above are the designs for my back wall and my workbench wall (where most of the cabinet work is going). Below is the design drawn in place on the walls. As you can see, it is really messy, but it does allow me to see that my design is going to work as I’ve laid it out.

Cabinet Design Drawn Out On Walls
Cabinet Design Drawn Out On Walls

I also had to do some very basic outlining on the floor, though it is almost impossible to see in the photo. This is because I don’t have a wall to draw on there. This was mostly so I could mark placement for the outlets on this wall. Or at least have reference points to where they will eventually go (on the left side of the below photo).

Portion Of Back Wall And Floor
Portion Of Back Wall And Floor

This is the layout for the currently non-existant wall. This is the partial wall that will remain open to the rest of the basement.

Left Work Table Wall
Left Work Table Wall

The flat designs aren’t great to be able to tell exactly what I have going on, but it does give an idea.

Being able to walk down the stairs and see this as a mostly life size design I can walk through is amazing. I’m thrilled that the HVAC pieces are done. Now it is down to waiting on my contractor. The only thing I have left to do before they start is to finalize my lighting and possibly get them purchased. The rest of my part now has to wait until I have electrical and walls in place.